Fight to address rural suicide continues

Waitaki news
Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean said the Government was committed to working alongside various rural agencies and support groups as the fight to reduce rural suicide continued.

“I definitely think there’s a greater awareness around rural depression and suicide, and I think it’s being talked about more openly down on the farm, but I’m also adamant that we mustn’t give up the fight as we work to reduce the statistics.

“Several groups, including Rural Women NZ, AgResearch, Young Farmers, Rural Support Trusts and the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network have committed policies and action plans on mental wellbeing and reducing farmer suicides.

“Federated Farmers has also been working hard to get the rural community talking about mental health and suicide and we’ve seen many farmers starting to come forward.

“I’m also hopeful that recent rural campaigns bringing the issue to the fore and encouraging open discussion will remove some of the stigma that exists.

“Last year’s decision by Government to expand of the National Depression Initiative, fronted by Sir John Kirwan, to include rural communities was another positive step forward.

“The National Depression Initiative aims to reduce the impact of depression on the lives of New Zealanders and its part of the Government’s commitment to addressing suicide prevention, as well as to improving the mental health and wellbeing of all New Zealanders.

“The Dairy Farmer Wellness and Wellbeing Programme, led by Dairy Women’s Network, and part funded by Government, is another excellent programme which focuses on physical and emotional wellbeing and building networks to support dairy farmers.

“While the Law Commissions’ recommendation, last year, to allow the media to report a suspected suicide could also be a step in the right direction in raising awareness.

“There’s no doubt rural depression is a significant issue. The Government continues to fund support for rural people and work alongside various groups as we continue the fight to bring the statistics down.”

The latest Ministry of Health figures show that in 2011, there was a higher rate of suicide in rural areas compared with the rate of suicide in urban areas (12.5 deaths per 100,000 population in rural areas compared with 10.6 deaths per 100,000 population in urban areas), Ms Dean said.